The strategic objectives of the President of the Office of Electronic Communications for the years 2008-2010 have been formulated on the basis of analyses of the Polish market, other European and world markets, obligations set out in the Telecommunications Law and EU guidelines.
The principal and overriding objective of the President of UKE will be to increase the accessibility of telecommunications services for the citizens and increase their usage. Having adopted this as the principal objective, the President of UKE looks at it in the following dimensions: economic, commercial (real/factual), infrastructural.
The President of UKE will, on the one hand, strive to ensure the existence of infrastructure required to allow access to telecommunications services in areas threatened by digital exclusion and on the other, to increase the diversity of telecommunications offerings and reduce the prices of these services. Special attention needs to be devoted to ensuring broadband Internet access and universal service. In Poland’s less densely populated areas one still cannot have broadband Internet access or, still quite frequently, not even a landline. Denmark, where as much as 95% of all households can have fast Internet access, can be an example for Poland.
The implementation of the objective defined above, which is both overriding and fundamental, will be pursued in the framework of six main tasks, which will be the focus of the activities of the President of UKE in the years 2008-2010. These tasks are:
These tasks must be implemented to ensure the proper operation of the telecommunications market in Poland. Their achievement is also required to close the technological gap between Poland and other EU countries and implement the concept of the Information Society in our country.
1. Stimulating competition
The regulator plays a key role in creating conditions for fair competition on the telecommunications market, which is due to high entry barriers and strong trends, which favour the establishment of natural monopolies or oligopolistic markets. Stimulating competition has a strong impact on a number of elements of the market and therefore, actions designed to support the achievement of this objective are intended to:
This objective is of a special importance in the case of Poland, which is due to the position of the incumbent on the fixed telephony market, which is stronger than on the more advanced telecommunications markets in Europe. In mobile telephony, we also deal with a very strong position of three operators, who have been present on the market for many years. Despite the entry of a new MNO and several MVNOs in the meantime, not one of them has so far managed to capture a major share of the market.
2. Consumer protection
Consumer protection is an activity derived both from EU guidelines and the statutory duties of UKE. The implementation of this objective will consist in ensuring:
Monitoring the observance of consumer rights has a particular importance in periods of market liberalisation, when dynamic change happens and when new mechanisms are shaped. The President of UKE will stimulate the development of these mechanisms in a manner beneficial to the customers.
3. Development of new products and technologies
The President of UKE will promote the introduction of new products and technologies to ensure that customers have access to a broad range of services and to speed up the deployment of infrastructure. Such activities should contribute to increasing innovativeness and efficiency in the national economy. The President of UKE will support, within the scope of its authority, initiatives aimed at research on new products and technologies, inter alia by making available the resources required for such research (e.g. spectrum), which remain under its control.
4. Reducing prices
Achieving a reduction in the prices of telecommunications services is another important objective from the perspective of the President of UKE, to ensure greater usage by the citizens and their greater affordability. This task is in line with EU guidelines, which state that ensuring that the prices of services provided by SMP undertakings reflect their costs is one of the fundamental duties of the regulator.
According to the EU, the next task of the regulator is to ensure that all end-users have access to a certain minimum set of services at an affordable price in their domicile. The recent years have seen rapid price declines in most areas of the market. This applies to fixed telephony, Internet access and mobile telephony. This positive trend notwithstanding, the costs of telecommunications services in Poland still remain much higher than in other EU countries. This phenomenon is even more pronounced, if we consider that the purchasing power of the Polish population is much lower than in most other EU countries. This is why activities aimed at further price reductions of telecommunications services in Poland need to be continued.
5. Wider physical availability of services through stimulation of infrastructural investment
The next strategic objective of the President of UKE is to increase the physical availability of services by stimulating investment in telecommunications infrastructure. The achievement of this objective is paramount, because Poland is still lagging in terms of service availability and telecommunications infrastructure behind leading EU countries, such as Denmark, where as much as 95% of the population can have access to broadband Internet access. The level of investment in telecommunications infrastructure is also much lower than the EU average.
Building the infrastructure required to ensure broadband Internet access, including the promotion of new technologies, such as FWA or FTTx, is one of the most important challenges faced by the President of UKE. To ensure the achievement of this goal, the President of UKE will also strive to create favourable conditions for investors.
Direct action by the President of UKE aimed at stimulating investment is limited by legal constraints, which is why the President of UKE will focus on indirect activities. However, it must be emphasised that the effective stimulation of infrastructural development requires the support of various public agencies and institutions, or EU funds, especially in less urbanised areas.
6. Promoting Poland as an “investor-friendly” country
Promoting Poland as a friendly country for investors will be another important objective of the President of UKE. Foreign telecommunications investment in Poland will have a highly positive impact on the condition of the market. Foreign investors may play a key role in stimulating competition and in the expansion of telecommunications infrastructure. The activities of the President of UKE with this regard will focus on promoting Poland on various European and world fora, ensuring easy and quick access to information for investors and support for the development of mechanisms facilitating the start-up of investment projects in Poland, as well as those increasing their profitability. The achievement of this objective will require certain legislative changes, which remain beyond the authority of the President of UKE. Nonetheless, the President of UKE intends to take part in devising proposals and studies on for such solutions.
For the full text of Regulatory Strategy please view an accompanying document.